Cracks in a World View

No matter what the origins of the parenting style of the professional middle – class parents with whom I spoke, those parents appear to doubt themselves more often than do the working-class and middle-class parents. Indeed, the latter sets of parents often seem quite confident about their child-rearing approach.6 The style I call parenting with limits is in many ways straightfor­ward and unselfconscious. But professional middle-class parents, who adopt parenting out of control, worry a lot about the consequences of their own actions: they worry about the pressure their children face in school and on the athletic field; they worry that there is not time for their children simply to “be” children; they worry about material and psychological “overindul­gence”; and they worry that the hovering they do might have problematic consequences. As postmodern parents, they are committed to a therapeutic approach to daily life—to improving their children and to improving them­selves.7 Not surprisingly, they are particularly concerned about their perfor­mance as parents.

Recall that when Jenna Hall was asked about her approach to raising chil­dren, she said she worries that there is too much “celebration for these things that aren’t that great” and that “later on these kids are going to be really disap­pointed [because] things aren’t going to be fun enough.” Even more openly,

privileged youth might well remain closer to ongoing support structures even if they are expected to meet more of their own material needs. These differ­ent experiences make it difficult to conclude if either group of young adults is fully independent or truly autonomous.13